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Joseph smiled as Gwen chose the desk beside him. He tried to focus on work, knowing his father would not be happy with either of them if they were caught talking during his lesson and that would prove to hurt their chances of having lunch together. His father wanted him to find a good wife much like his mother wanted, but they both also wanted him to pay close attention to his education and take it seriously. The right girl would be there when he was ready and if not, his parents were happy to help. Joseph did manage to pay attention, but he still stole a few glances at Gwen when he could. It was obvious then that he was trying extra hard to impress her by actually participating in the class. Soon the lesson came to an end and everyone was gathering their things to head to their next class or lunch.
“I just have to talk to my father,” Joseph told Gwen with a smile. Harvey looked to Joseph as though he were watching his son grow up before his eyes. Joseph headed down the stairs to his father’s desk.
“Dad,” he whispered. His father paused in collecting his belongs and looked toward her. “I was hoping you could chaperone my lunch uhm, date with Gwendolyn.” He dint know what his father was going to say. He watched him ponder for a second before finally nodding. Joseph thanked him and made sure to grab his belongings and the lunch. The disappointing thing was that he couldn’t hold Gwen’s hand or even attempt anything that he had done the night before. Soon they were leaving, his father kind of like a shadow and thankfully keeping a good distance.
“So, I convinced Harvey to let us have a go at his horses,” he said to her. “How’s your day been? Classes going well?” He smiled at Gwen, trying his hardest to not show how nervous he was. They’d finally reached the courtyard then, he suggested they take a seat on. Bench.
Gwendolyn briefly spoke to her French teacher and he told her that he was impressed with the work that she had shown and told her that he had no doubt that she would settle in nicely at the school. She thanked the professor before walking out to meet with Elaine. As soon as she stepped out it seemed the woman had a lot of questions.
"Does Joseph know that you are engaged?" She asked and and Gwen shook her head. "Technically I'm not engaged... But, only you know about that." Elaine nodded her head and asked. "Are you going to tell him? He does have a right to know." That did make the Auburn haired girl pause and think. "I don't think I will... Look, I can here to have some fun and I'm sure that's all that he wants. If I tell him about my circumstance he might think that I'm trying to have that with him and he might not speak to me again." To her, it made perfect sense why she wasn't going to tell him about her situation with Vincent. She didn't need to. It looked like Elaine was about to ask another question but then they entered their history class.
They sat down on the desk next to Joseph and Harvey and Gwen ensure to sit on the side closest to Joseph. She has smiled at him when she came in and now she was just preparing for this lesson. She didn't know what to say or if she should say anything at all. She was aware his father taught that lesson and she didn't want to make a bad impression by appearing to be talkative and distracting.
Joseph looked at his painting. They were to be working on their portfolios which was exciting to Joseph especially since thy didn’t have to stick to one medium and that meant exploration. He wondered what Gwen’s work looked like. She was so interesting and enigmatic, more than just her beauty there was something that Joseph found simply mesmerizing about her. He’d been so caught up in his thoughts then that he hadn’t noticed the class had been dismissed. Joseph gathered his things and began down the steps, saying his goodbye to the instructor. He met up with Harvey along the way.
“So, I was thinking of bringing her to your place, dinner and a little ride on Betsy and Gill.” Joseph asked Harvey.
“And what’s in it for me?” Harvey jested with a little elbow to Joseph’s side.
“The pleasure and satisfaction of knowing you helped your dear and best friend?” He paused in the middle of the hall, he could see Gwen coming from the opposite way, he wondered if he could get her schedule. Or was that weird? Wanting to walk her to class and having lunch, was it too much? He knew also this would mean he would have to have a chaperone. The night before was easy, they only headed down the hill and he was sure her grandmother assumed there would be adults there which technically there were if you counted the butler and maids upstairs.
Though on campus it was a bit different. If Gwendolyn was seen with him alone it could come off wrong. “Please Harvey,” he asked.
“Alright alright I was only teasing. Of course, I’m happy to help,” he said. They entered the class then and Joseph watched for Gwen to enter. He figured he could convince his father to watch over them when they had their lunch, he could only hope he would just keep his distance, he really wanted more alone time with Gwen.
Gwendolyn did feel rather exposed in the top that she wore, but it was a rather hot day and she needed some way to keep cool. Elaine had just been reading her about how 'Joseph would like what she was wearing' when the said man walked past and waved at her. She had waved at him and then playfully scolded Elaine who was a giggling mess at that point. Afterwards, they made their way to their French lesson and once again her mind would wander to Joseph and the feeling of him kissing her cheek. She could practically still feel it and occaisionally she would brush her fingers across that spot. The teacher assigned them an essay to do, but more to see their level of French and allowed them to talk to their table partner.
She was hesitant to ask, but eventually she did. "Elaine, could I spend my lunch with Joseph? I just want to get to know him a bit better and-" But she was cut off by the other girl who waved her hand dismissively. "You don't need to ask Gwen. You don't have to sit with me and don't worry about me being by myself, I have other friends." She said reassuringly and Gwen smiled, tucking a wild strand of hair, that was supposed to be in a bun, behind her ear. Soon enough, the lesson was over and the two girls were packing their things away and getting ready for their next lesson which was History and then lunch.
Joseph had changed into some light khaki pants and a blue coat over his white collared shirt. He had brought his lunch with him this time, not sure if Gwen would have her own, but he was hoping that they could get away from the others. He wanted to spend some time with her alone and they could even spend time checking out the architecture of the university. He was sure she would like that, a little moment for them to sit beside each other, eating and peacefully sketching or drawing. He could think about it then and it made him smile. Hopefully she would say yes to it. Joseph had arrived at the school, meting Harvey to which was nursing a pretty bad hangover of course.
“So, what happened? I woke up and you guys were gone,” he said with a wiggle of his brows.
“We danced, talked in the garden and I walked her home. That’s all,” he said with a shrug. Harvey could read through him through and knew that couldn’t have been all.
“I kissed her on the cheek,” Joseph admitted finally. Harvey whistled then, laughing in joy.
“Well, someone is growing a pair eh?”
“It’s not like that, it was more of a just a goodnight kiss you know? Besides, I just met her.”
“Yeah, but you’ve already got eyes for her,” Harvey said.
He saw Gwen in passing but knew that he couldn’t stay. He waved in her direction, knowing he had to be on time for class. He figured he would see her for history, if he was quick, maybe he could walk her to class. Joseph soon headed to art, taking his normal seat and commencing work, though his mind was on Gwendolyn, her hair brushing against her bare shoulders.
Gwendolyn woke up that morning in an incredibly good mood, the dancing had tired her out enough to earn her a good night's rest and of course she dreamt of Joseph. She spent her morning like she did every morning by once again having a wash, getting changed into some proper clothes and having breakfast with her grandmother. She told her of the night that she spent with him and her grandmother smiled fondly as she listened.
"You know, Gwen, you could always convince your parents to not go through with the arranged marriage. It seems you like this young man and it would be a shame to see you leave come the end of summer." Her Grandmother suggested.
It made her pause to think, she had never thought about that before. Neither her or Vincent wanted this and if she was able to say she had an interest in someone than they could cancel.
"I don't think they would let me, nana. Everything is being paid for as we speak and my parents wouldn't want to tarnish the relationship that they have with the Smiths." She said, quite disappointed. She glanced at the clock and knew she had to be going to school. "I have to go nana, I will see after." She said, giving the woman a kiss on the cheek. "If Joseph invites you out somewhere tonight, don't come back. Just go with him." Her grandmother said with a playful smile. It made Gwendolyn laugh and she walked out to where her driver was already waiting.
She wore something fairly similar the day before, only she wore a dark green skirt that was rather high waisted, and so didn't need a sashay, and the blouse she wore showed off her pale shoulders and there were layered thrills on the sleeves. She also wore a thin necklace that was made out of black velvet.
Soon enough, she was making her way into the school and she met up with Elaine who excitedly asked her how the night was and Gwendolyn told her everything that happened.
Joseph was trying to decide whether it was good or not for him to have kissed her. It was just a harmless kiss on the cheek at least. She seemed to be happy about it and it was innocent for now at least. It was a bit of pressure to think that her family thought so highly of his own and of course that wasn’t really unusual considering reputation was very important in their society. He happily made his way home, chastised by Janes for being late, but of course she was happy to fix him something warm to drink and have him tell her everything about the night with Gwen. It was clearly noted that both families knew of one another. He told her about the garden and the dancing. Jane was surprised that he had made the effort to even ask her out.
“Well, I’m certainly glad you’re making an attempt at a social life. Your mother was starting to worry about you.”
“I’m fine,” Joseph said in defense as he took a bite of the biscuit.
“Yes, you are, but other than Harvey you’re a lonely boy. It’s good to get out there. Besides, you’re in your senior year and you know your mother is expecting a wedding come end of graduation.” Joseph rolled his eyes then. His mother just wanted to be sure he would find someone to marry at least. She always said she wished she had a daughter; things would be so much easier and simpler. Joseph was too much of a free and romantic spirit, then again so was his father. At least that was the tale his mother told him in his childhood years, then it seemed like his parents couldn’t spend a day apart. Now, it seemed their meals were the only times they were all together.
“Well, I enjoy spending time with Gwendolyn, but it’s a bit too early to be thinking about that isn’t it?” Jane smiled and wiped a bit of jam from his face.
“It is.” She had raised the boy since he was a baby, it was amazing to see him age and mature. In her eyes he would never be ready for marriage. He was still a little boy to Jane. “Go o and get to bed.” She told him.
Joseph wished her goodnight and kissed her cheek then before heading to his room to change for bed. Gwen was on his mind, and he was excited with the prospect of seeing her the next day.
Gwendolyn wondered why he wanted to make this date special, either way it had made her feel giddy that he did want to do such a thing. Having her hand in his was such a small act, but she enjoyed it immensely. His hand was warm and soft, it felt like their fingers intertwined perfectly. She compared this to when she had held Vincent's hand and the feelings were opposite. With her future husband, it felt platonic, like she was holding a family members hand. But with Joseph, it just made her heart skip and she wanted to be closer. "She thinks rather highly of you and your family, so you have a lot on your shoulders." She replied back in amusement, but at the same time she was being quite serious.
She had nodded her head in agreement to the shawl which she had now wrapped around her shoulders. "I know, I thank my past self otherwise I would have been a shivering mess." Even under the moonlight, he looked handsome. She so wished that she had been given the freedom to choose her own husband. Not that she would marry Joseph, they had only just met. But, it would allow her to become more invested. She only hoped that he didn't hold any true feelings for her, but that was unlikely. He was probably like Harvey and that he didn't want to settle down, and she was fine with that since she couldn't.
"I'm glad that I came too, you've really made my night enjoyable." She told him. "I look forward to seeing you too, on campus and in classes." She replied. Then he kissed her cheek. Her eyes had widened slightly and her face flushed. She watched him leave for a moment before calling after him. "Goodnight Joseph!" She smiled even brighter before blowing the candle out and going inside.
The rest of her night was spent eating a sandwich her grandmother had made for her, getting changed into a nightgown and thinking of him. She couldn't stop thinking about him even as she got into bed and pulled the covers over her. She went to sleep with a smile that night.
“Great, guess I could try to figure that out. I want it to be special,” he said with a smile. For the most part, he could depend on just holding her hand. That was nice enough and if that was as far as they were going, then he was okay with it. “Oh yes, I don’t want her to worry either. I have to maintain my reputation,” he joked as he squeezed her hand in return. Most of the guests were leaving and the maids were coming down, glad for the silence to clean everything up. The good thing was at least for some time they had their feet up to relax as they knew I would be a long night.
“It’s a good thing you brought your shawl,” he mentioned with a smile as they began back from the path they walked earlier. It was a beautiful starlit night. Gwendolyn’s skin shone like a pearl under the moonlight. He’d wanted to delay reaching her home, but it was inevitable, and the candle still burned in acknowledgment that she was still out and the last to enter. Together outside of her grandmother’s home, he held both her hands again.
“Well, I’m glad you decided to come with.” He told Gwendolyn with a smile. “And I look forward to our hanging out again. Suppose I will see you on campus?” He said with a smile.
Joseph knew it was nearing for him to be home as well and he knew he couldn’t stall any longer. “Goodnight Gwendolyn,” he said, stealing a kiss on her cheek before offered a blushing grin. He turned on his heel, after waving and began to head home. He’d never felt so euphoric before. He didn’t know if he’d be able to sleep. Thoughts of them dancing, the light weight of her hand in his. He found himself missing it already.
Gwendolyn nodded her head and then giggled as he chuckled. "I can imagine, he does seem the party and ladies type." She commented, but not rudely. It was more of just an observation that she had made. She couldn't help but admire his features in the soft glow that was casted on them. He looked so handsome. But, she was reminded of what was going to happen after the summer.
She couldn't go going around like this with Joseph and she certainly knew that friends didn't hold hands like they were, they didn't dance like they had and they didn't put flowers in your hair. She only wished that she had been given time to find someone for else rather than be placed into a marriage. Not that she would marry Joseph, they had only just met after all. But, she would have liked to try and be romantically involved with him. But, she couldn't see the harm. It would just be dinner and she perked at the idea of horses. Her parents were not going to find out and she was sure that Vincent had been planning to marry someone that wasn't her.
"I am! And I would love to have dinner with you." She finally answered after not saying anything for a moment. "As for taking me home? Yes, I should be going. I don't want my grandmother to worry and if I was late you wouldn't be in her good books." She said with a light laugh, giving his hand a gentle squeeze before beginning to walk with him out of the garden and house.
“Your first party really? Well I’m glad I didn’t make you spend a whole night out here,” he told her with a small chuckle. “There will be more I’m sure. I’m not really much of a party guy, but now that I’ve shown up, Harvey is certainly going to make sure I start going out more than I have. I’m glad you had fun Gwendolyn,” he said as he looked around. The lights from inside the home were a warm orange color and providing a nice glow toward them. “I don’t really know what to do,” he said, and he blushed at the fact that was something he more so wanted to admit to in his mind. He laughed a little to himself, before taking both of her hands then.
“I’d really like to see you again Gwendolyn, I mean – well you know maybe dinner?” He suggested. It was true that Joseph was going for it more than he would with anyone else, but there was something about Gwen that he really liked, so why not take the chance. Besides, she was single as far as h knew and her hand belonged to no one. Joseph looked at her then, meeting her eyes. In all honestly, he wanted badly to give her a kiss, but he knew that was too much and moving quite too forward.
It was beginning to got a bit late and slightly cooler. “I should be getting you home,” he said to her. “What about riding horses. Are you into that?” He asked her. He knew Harvey’s family owned some, his mother used to be into the sport. They could maybe spend some time at his farm there,
Gwendolyn had quite a sheltered life, she was homeschooled by nanny and she had grown up with her family and Vincent. Her childhood years she had had lots of friends, but during adolescence she was mostly kept to her home. So, holding hands with Joseph and having him so close to her was all very new. That was why she flustered easy and why whenever he was close, she felt her heart best ten times faster than usual. She supposed that he was the first man that she had felt this way before. She gave a look of understanding as he explained what kind of person Amber was and and so hoped she had left good impression on her. She really didn't want to have any dramas whilst living here for the summer. She just wanted to enjoy herself.
She was glad that he agreed to go to the garden the afternoon air was cooling and she was grateful as it would have lessened the red blush on her cheeks from the dancing. She smiled to herself as he slipped his hand into hers and she happily entangled their fingers together. She studied everything in the garden carefully, appreciating its beauty in the evenings light.
When they had come to the statue, that Joseph said to be his favourite, she smiled. "I can see why." She studied its fine details and had been so lost in appreciating it that the flower being slid into her hair was a bit of a shock. She looked at him and smiled. "As am I... I'll have to admit that this is my first proper party." She said slightly embarrassed. "But thank you for inviting me and making it so that I did have fun."
Joseph was recovering from the small gasp she made and of course it had made him a bit flustered. Her reaction to his touch was so intense. Joseph smirked some as he watched her. “She can be a bit mouthy,” he said. He knew she was the type of person to find anything wrong with you not to like you and her being here with Joseph was pretty high on her list. Still, she was knowing and maybe Amber would spare her. The song had come to an end, to which those on the dancefloor had pleasantly clapped. The night was winding down, which meant many were returning home soon. “The garden, sounds nice.” He told her with a smile as he led her out of the house, through the back. Harvey saw them walking pass, the others beyond drunk and asleep. He gave Joseph an encouraging smile. It was much cooler outside, where there was no one but the beautiful trees and flowers amongst them under a large black starry sky.
“Thank you, for the dance,” he told her with a smile. His hand still rested around her waist, to which she seemed to be comfortable with. Joseph eventually moved it to hold her hand, he missed how it felt in his and tried not to make it seem like a big deal that they were holding hands. He led her to statue of a man and a woman wrapped around each other, her hair like a smooth silk blanket wrapped around them.
“This is my favorite one,” he said to her with a smile. He pulled a small flower from the growth at the brunt of the statue. He slid it into Gwendolyn’s hair, watching her careful with a smile as he looked into her twinkling eyes. “I’m having much fun tonight,” he admitted softly.
Gwendolyn had her own blush as she was pulled in closer and she felt his hands on her waist, hers had found themselves on his shoulders. It was strange how natural this felt, to be in his arms like that, swaying with him to the music. She just had to agree that they weren't too bad and she nodded her head. She just felt incredibly happy, and hearing him laugh and seeing him smile only increased that.
Though, she had tensed slightly and she had to stop herself from gasping when he softly spoke into her ear. It took her a moment to even truly process what he had said. "Why would I need to worry about her?" She asked with genuine curiosity. She thought Amber was rather nice and was confused as to why she would worry about her in the first place.
She was rather disappointed when he pulled away from her and she wanted him close again. She wanted to be alone with him. "Thank you... And you have more skill than you realise." She replied. She hesitated before asking. "You know, I wouldn't mind aimlessly strolling to the garden..."
Joseph was relieved when she said yes, smiling at the feeling of her hand in his. Joseph was trying not to let the blush show on his cheeks, but they were burning from joy. He placed his hand on her hip, drawing her close. Her giggles were infectious, and he found himself also giving a laugh.
“Well, that makes two of us,” he said to her as he looked into her eyes. Together they swayed along on the dance floor. “Though I think we’re getting along well, don’t you?” he suggested to her with a smile. It almost felt like they were the only ones there, the music a beautiful chiming sound in the background. “Don’t worry about Amber,” he said against her ear then. She smelled good, like a beautiful garden. He didn’t mean to scare Gwen or infer that Amber would harm her, but he knew that Amber was a part of a very high class click and she was very social. One bad word could tarnish a reputation sometimes. Joseph couldn’t see anything that could be said about Gwen that wasn’t positive though.
Joseph pulled back then, the song coming to a slow end then. “I think you are – you dance beautifully,” he told her.
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